Changes in mentality noted on climb of corporate ladder

By Keith Farner | Emory Business | June 23, 2015

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He went from being perceived as a rising star in the Republican party, to having a nickname of the “Downton Abbey” congressman.

Over the course of several weeks, a scandal around Congressman Aaron Schock evolved after a Washington Post article chronicled how his office decorations resembled the hit PBS British television series based in the early 1900s.

It ended with Schock’s resignation after a POLITICO report on embellished mileage reimbursements.

The office renovation reportedly cost $40,000, and Schock sold his house to a former Caterpillar executive — who was also a campaign contributor — for higher than market value.

While not as extravagant, another abuse of power came in December when a now disgraced Korean Air executive forced an airline pilot return a plane to the gate after macadamia nuts were not — in her mind — served properly in first class.

James Wade, the Asa Griggs Candler Chaired Professor of Organization & Management at Goizueta Business School, these cases fit two examples: High status people doing bad things, and people who are targeted because of visibility.

In the case of Schock, Wade said his Congressional position was highly visible, and the media narrative of a “do nothing” Congress was pervasive. In the case of Korean Air executive Heather Cho, a bad act was made worse due to her status.

She is the daughter of the Korean Airlines chairman.

“Of course, if you’re lesser known person,” Wade said, “you probably can’t get a plane to go back to the airport. … If you fit a media narrative and do something a little bit questionable, you’re likely to get targeted for it.”

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